Salmon is loaded with health benefits, including vitamins and minerals that protect vital organs, control inflammation and improve thyroid function. It’s also one of the most versatile and forgiving types of fish you can prepare. Here’s what you need to know about the most common ways to cook salmon.
Buy Wild-Caught Salmon
To enjoy salmon at its peak, skip the farm-raised fish. The wild-caught salmon tend to be leaner and more flavorful. Their natural habit gives wild-caught salmon other advantages too—including that beautiful orange/pink color we associate with fresh salmon. It comes courtesy of the pink krill that wild-caught salmon eat in the ocean.
What to Look for at the Seafood Counter
Depending on where you shop, you may find numerous wild-caught salmon types. These are likely from the Pacific and should include Chinook (also known as king), chum or keta, coho and sockeye salmon. You can’t go wrong with any of them; all are suitable for the most common prep methods. You’re good to buy frozen fish—here’s why.
How to Cook Salmon
Chinook and sockeye are ideal for anyone who’s learning to prepare salmon. (The high fat content makes them less susceptible to drying out if overcooked.) Learning how to cook it is easier than you might think—we’ll break it down step-by-step here.
Ready to add serious nutritional heft to your weekly menu rotation? You don’t want to make these common salmon mistakes. Read on for three foolproof methods for preparing this superfood.
Method #1: Oven-Roasted Salmon
This oven-roasted salmon was developed by staffer Jeanne Ambrose, and it’s a great recipe to know by heart. Plus you can easily customize it to suit your taste.
- Center-cut salmon filet, 1-1½ pounds
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
Step 1: Heat Up the Skillet
For this recipe, you don’t even need to turn on your stovetop, Instead, place your cast-iron skillet into a cold oven and heat to 450ºF.
Step 2: Place the Salmon in the Cast Iron
Taste of Home
Brush the salmon with olive oil and sprinkle with the salt and pepper, remove the pan and lay the fish skin side down inside.
Pro tip: Laying the fish skin-side-down is key to getting crispier skin on your salmon.
Step 3: Bake!
Taste of Home
With the salmon in place, return the skillet to the oven and cook uncovered for 14 to 18 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 125ºF. Remove from the pan and cut the salmon into single-serving sizes.
Step 4: Make a sauce
You’ll want a sauce for this dish—we like using olive oil or melted butter with fresh herbs and grated lemon peel.
Method #2: Pan-Seared Salmon
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 4 salmon fillets (6 ounces each)
- 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup reduced-fat plain yogurt
- 1/4 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
- 1/4 cup finely chopped cucumber
- 1 teaspoon snipped fresh dill
Step 1: Prep the pan
In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.
Step 2: Season and sauté
Sprinkle salmon with Italian seasoning and salt. Place in skillet, skin side down. Reduce heat to medium. Cook until fish just begins to flake easily with a fork, about 5 minutes on each side.
Pro tip: Keep an eye on the salmon! If the skillet gets too hot, the outside of the salmon will get too dark before it’s cooked through.
Step 3: Make the sauce
In a small bowl combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, cucumber and dill. Serve with salmon.
Method #3: Grilled Salmon
- 2 salmon fillets (about 1 pound each)
- 1/2 cup canola oil
- 1/2 cup lemon juice
- 4 green onions, thinly sliced
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1-1/2 teaspoons minced fresh rosemary or 1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary, crushed
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
Step 1: Marinate the fish
Place salmon in a shallow dish. Combine all the remaining ingredients to make your marinade. Set aside 1/4 cup for basting; pour the remaining marinade over salmon. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then drain, discarding any leftover marinade.
Step 2: Grill and baste
Grill salmon over medium heat, skin side down, for 15-20 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Baste occasionally with your reserved marinade.
Ready for more advanced inspiration? Check out these creative salmon recipes!